• Dresses,  Events and day trips

    The Dressmaker’s Ball Simplicity 1606

    A bit later than planned I wanted to share some pics from The Dressmaker’s Ball!

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball

    In case you missed it this was the event that took place on May 14th at Leicester’s City Rooms. Organised by the fab team at Crafty Sew and Sew we were treated to an evening of dinner and dancing. It was fab!! Here’s me and Sarah, one half of the organising team.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball

     We had a complimentary drink in arrival, access to a glittery photo booth, buffet dinner and live music from Gabby Young. I had the honour of being part of the judging panel for the optional competition. I was joined by ElisalexMarieElle and Becky on the panel. It was incredibly hard picking winners from all the amazing garments on display. I loved how everyone dressed to the nines for the night.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball

    I wore a version of Simplicity 1606, an amazing fit pattern I picked up last year. Its a great little versatile pattern and I’ve already made a hundred from it since the ball.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball

    My fabric was a medium-weight polyester satin in a sort of crystallized print from Abakhan Moyston. 3m came to about £20 but with a 15% off voucher this dress pretty much came to £17!

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Of couse I added pockets. I used a concealed zip and boning from my stash. Plus grosgrain ribbon I had as a waist stay.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    The fit was near perfect I think but I should have added more boning to stop the bodice sagging I think. The waist stay keeps it in place but it’s not as rigid as it could be.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    I actually hid my waist stay inside the garment, having it emerge through buttonholes added to the lining before construction. To finish I hand sewed hot pink braid to the circle skirt to keep the drama and added a petticoat for extra floofiness.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    It was such a lovely night and I got to chat to so many sewists! Gabby entertained us with her gorgeous vocals and Marie was an excellent hostess! (I even got to meet Charlotte and the bunnies).

    I’ll leave you with a few more pics of the evening to enjoy. Maybe I’ll see you there if it’s repeated next year? Thanks so much to Freya and Sarah for xreati g this wonderful event.

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

    Almond Rock Dressmaker's ball simplicity 1606

  • Events and day trips

    Sewbrum 2016

    Hello lovely ladies and gents

    I’m writing this post on my journey home from Birmingham after an epic day in the company of 100 stylish sewists.

    Last night involved lots of curry and champers as we celebrated our engagement with some close friends and like an idiot I stayed up later than expected. My bus was at 7am this morning so I armed myself with a flask of tea, hours of podcasts and huddled into my seat. I wore my red SOI Vintage Shirtdress for the day.

    Just after getting off the megabus I managed to bump into Abi on the way to the Edwardian Tearooms and we arrived to a scene of a room stacked with sewists drinking tea and gossiping. I met some new faces which is half the reason for attending and then forcibly dragged a group around the market and Barry’s – including a selfie pitstop at my favourite sign.

    There was lots of banter with Kate and RachelCharlotteNina and Gabby. I finally got to meet Fiona. And yes I cuddled a pug and larked around with Elle, Abi, Vicki and Rhiannon. There was a flying catch up with Lauren and baby Sophia wearing the Liberty cord dress Lauren blogged recently. Plus I manage to shout hello and wave at lots of lovely people like ClaireRachelHelen and many more. Not forgetting that I have about 20 new blogs to follow!

    I was actually very reserved with what I brought home. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my major geek out at the release of Gertie’s new Butterick 6380 in America. Well it’s finally here in the UK and was part of the sale on at Fancy Silk Store (for all Butterick patterns – new and old). I also bought some graphic black and white viscose from a stall outside on the rag market for just £1 a metre!

    Other things that made it into my handbag for the journey home were a copy of New Look 6434, a flyer for the Dressmaker’s Ball 2017, two hilarious vintage wedding dress patterns (thanks Kate!) which may actually have some potential, a flask filled with cider and a copy of the stylist fashion special magazine.

    All in all a pretty cracking day! Will I see you there next year??

  • Events and day trips

    Beyond Measure open day 

    It’s been a busy busy week but it’s nice to be writing a blog post. It’s press week so I’m very manic and I keep forgetting to get up for glasses of water. Plus I’m testing a pattern for work because it’s got a fun design detail that I wanted to try out myself.

    Enough about that though!! Today I wanted to talk a little about the Beyond Measure open day that Ruth and I attended last weekend. Ooh two Ruth mentions in two posts. But I’ve just managed to delete ALL my photos from my phone while trying to upload them. I could shout out something naughty but I’ll resist. Fingers crossed Grace doesn’t mind me sharing her pictures.

    almond rock beyond measure

    So when Grace mentioned at the Sewing Weekender that her Todmorden studio was opening its doors, it was too good a chance to miss. Tod can be found just outside Hebden Bridge and has plenty of similar charms. Having worked in Mytholmroyd (two train stops away) for 7 years and with friends in Hebbers I know the train route well. It’s about an 1hr 10 from Leeds and 45 mins from Manchester.

    Beyond Measure is roughly a 10 minute walk from the station and thankfully Saturday was a lovely sunny day. As it’s not a shop I’m not sure how it looks normally, but Grace had set up the space with mannequins, piles of fabric bundles and tall end-bolts, and of course several racks and trays of pretty haberdashery and tools.

    almond rock beyond measure

    almond rock beyond measure almond rock beyond measure

    On display there was the well known Sajou and Merchant and Mills supplies, plus the gorgeous tweed, leather and wood pincushions she’s had made locally. Large jars of vintage buttons and toggles sat on turquoise shelves. I loved the handmade ceramic buttons, each slightly unique. We had chance to chat to one of the talented designers who made the pincushions and laughed about how he didn’t really know anything about the sewing industry but throughly enjoyed his work. He was humble and friendly, having brought his daughter on a day trip to see his products in Grace’s store.

    almond rock beyond measure

    almond rock beyond measure

    almond rock beyond measure

    There was a also tempting amount of wool of offer which Grace had sourced from a Lancashire mill. Offcuts and end bolts, plus colour coordinated bundles. I succumbed to some smooth soft and almost glossy boucle wool with flecks of colour running through. It was £30 for a 1.6m piece, enough for a short jacket I think. I also picked up something for a Christmas present… enough said about that (spies everywhere).

    We spent a good portion of the day gossiping with Grace and her lovely friend Tinkering Textiles about all sort of things and nibbling on the MOST DELICIOUS honey chocolate flapjack before fully giving in to hunger and having a nice lunch at the local Co-op cafe. Mmmm spiced potato and spinach wraps yummy.

    almond rock beyond measure

    almond rock beyond measure

    Grace’s eye for detail and quality is paired perfectly with her design aesthetic and she has curated her shop to include beautiful, intriguing and charming pieces. Handcrafted items can often be seen as a luxury to own and so there’s a small hurdle to overcome about whether you can indulge but think about it. What value do you place on your garments? I hope you believe in the worth of the hours you’re giving over to your craft. Any guilt should be momentary as your buying something from a talented craftsperson that you know will last. And will definitely have more personality. Food for though hopefully.

    almond rock beyond measure

    I’ll be back soon with some thoughts on wedding dresses and how I’m attempting to edit my eclectic style into one dress.

  • Events and day trips

    The Sewing Weekender

    Hello everybody! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I’m now on the hunt for amazing fabric suppliers in the UK and will write a little round up soon about my plans. I’ve just got back from a last minute holiday where I did a lot of plotting for how to share snippets of my diy wedding dress.

    I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on the recent Sewing Weekender hosted by Rachel and Kate of The Foldline and Charlotte of blog English Girl At Home and what I made. There were a limited number of spots so I count myself lucky to have nabbed one. I didn’t think my boss would mind too much if I bunked off for five mins to buy myself one as a birthday treat. To be fair he probably never realised.

    When 57 attendees arrived in sunny oCambridge we were met by an amazing sight; goodie bags being handed out as you stepped in with treats from Village HaberdasheryLove SewingRemnant Kings and Abakhan, Janome machines set up on large tables with ribbon tied boxes of haberdashery from Adam Ross, swap items stacked high and enough tea and coffee to keep us charged all day.

    I sat on a table of four with my friend Ruth who travelled down from Yorkshire to meet new sewing friends (I definitely recommend following her on twitter) and Sarah who I’ve enjoyed following online, who headed over from Suffolk with her mum! I feel like such an idiot but I can’t remember Sarah’s mum’s name. I hate it when that happens but it’s best to just hold your hands up and be honest about these things.

    It was like the shirt table as there were two shirts and a shirtdress being sewn, but I bucked the trend by sitting and hand sewing while gossiping. I’d decided to finish my new circle skirt Cambie with matching bias tape which I pieced from 20 scrap bits of my fabric. Thankfully I got everything finished and Ruth kindly snapped some pics for me which I’ll share at the end of the post but here’s a cheeky pic of me and Louise in our Cambies together! (Don’t you love her use of border print cotton from Gertie’s fabric line?).

    The Saturday was dedicated to sewing and everyone busied themselves with different projects whilst “Prefects” wandered around offering advice, fitting help and biscuit-based support, there was a fabric and pattern swap, lovely lunchtime walk into Cambridge and for the overnight crew a dinner in town. I stayed with my in-laws to be so we could celebrate the engagement with the whole Scarr family which meant sadly missed out on that last part. It’s so funny but after 6 and a half years dating a Cambridge man I have still never been punting and only a handful of times to the town centre!!

    Sunday was structured around lectures that were funny, insightful, thought-provoking and educational. The clever and charming women who spoke were RachelGraceMarillaElenaTilly and Gabby, talking about wardrobe planning, pattern design, small design businesses and vlogging to touch on a few topics. There was no need for sewing as the lectures were thoroughly engaging. One thing that resonated with me was cataloguing my stash for better planning and so I’ve begun adding scraps on a keyring of index cards. I also thought a lot about my wedding dress plans and what I’d like to achieve and learn from the project because it really needs to be a learning experience for me as corny as that may sound.

    So I won’t cover what others have said but I would like to heartedly recommend that you get a ticket for the next Sewing Weekender (we’ve totally badgered the girls into considering a repeat) and am honestly in awe of Charlotte, Kate and Rachel’s organisational skills.

    Ok, now here’s my dress. I know you’ve seen Cambie dresses frome me before (here and here) but I wanted to try adding a circle skirt to the pattern to see how it looked. 

    Answer? I’m pretty damn happy with it. But I’m also very into circle skirts at the moment. It’s a little bulky around the pockets so maybe should have been omitted but hey, I like pockets. Again I omitted the waistband and used a straight neckline. A 22″ concealed purple zipper for a bit of fun too.

     The dress is fully lined in anti-static peach lining which means it’s tights-friendly and the skirt lining adds extra volume. The hem as I mentioned is bias faced and invisibly hand stitched. I only wish I had horsehair braid in my stash to finish the hem with!

    I cannot believe I found some Liberty Carline poplin in purple (variations seen here and here by me) at Birmingham Rag Market… I blumming love that place. Spotted during an awesome mini shop with Marie, Kat, Roisin and Helen (guest appearance from Sabs) a few months back. It was £8 per metre because it had a big flaw parallel to a good portion the selvedge about 10cm in but because it’s so wide I just bought some extra material and worked around it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

    Here’s some silly bonus pics of it in action on holiday! Until next time everyone, drop me comments with your best score on a fabric shopping trip!! 

  • Events and day trips

    New York New York

    So if you follow me on social media you’ll have seen a few of my pics of New York where my partner and I had a fun mini break during March.

    I thought I’d give a little rundown of the stitchy highlights in case you were interested!
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    So the day my issue went to the printers I fled the office and whizzed down to London. In publishing this is generally the best time to take a holiday. This was my second visit to New York but my first since taking up sewing.

    We flew from Heathrow and landed in NYC Thursday lunchtime. It was fantastic weather! Totally unseasonal, it was 24° so I got changed into a dress and strolled around Central Park in the sun.
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    We stayed in the Empire Hotel (yes the Chuck Bass hotel) which was only a short walk from the park. And a quick stroll up to the statue of the garment worker and also button and needle statue.

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    Friday was a special day because I got to visit the McCall’s head office and have a tour. The team was wonderful and explained how they work which had quite a few similarities to my office though on a bigger scale. I’m going to run a piece on the team in the magazine soon. I wore my Liberty wildflowers Vogue 1102 dress in honour of the day.
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    The office is decorated with wonderful illustrations and sewing ephemera and mannequins of all sizes fill the corners. Obviously I can’t reveal too much as I was able to see some upcoming collections that need to stay secret for the time being. But seeing pattern draping in action was a thrill.

    After that we went to the World Trade Centre and memorial which was incredible moving and emotional. Plus we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge just before sunset.

    Saturday and Sunday involved lot more touristy trips using our City Passes to hit every major landmark/museum/gallery. Plus we got to see Mathilde on Broadway which was fantastic!
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    I was so excited about Monday I barely slept. This was the day I met up with Karen, Sonja, Charlotte and Emma Jayne! Plus Peter joined us for a little bit too which was fantastic. The only bad thing was the rain! We headed to the garment district visiting Mood fabrics first. Its pretty overwhelming as bolts are stacked so high you have to either know what you’re after or rummage. Swatch is uber adorable though!
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    In a bid to avoid panicking I decided to look for cotton eyelet as it’s so rare in the UK. And once I’d picked some out I looked over the scuba. I bought two lengths, enough for dresses and stopped there.
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    After that we braved Elliott Berman and were again overwhelmed with choice. Technically they sell wholesale but they don’t mind selling small lengths in the shop. I chose some silly galloping horses/llamas on viscose (Karen bought the same print in a different colourway on jersey). Plus some viscose challis from France in a stunning floral design. Its so light and cool to the touch. I’m in love.
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    Next we went to an amazing notions place and I found a perfect complimentary colour zip for my eyelet. Emma Jayne found the perfect colour metal zip for her coat project too! Winning!! They also had cool things like corduroy bias binding and colourful gadgets

    Surprisingly this took a lot of time and we called it a day at that! Charlotte and I picked up our other halves and the four of us had an awesome pizza lunch then headed out to the ice hockey as a group later that night! It was a pretty epic game in fact and we all got free bobbleheads to bring home hahah.

    Tuesday was our last day and we tried to fit in the final touristy bits including present shopping and one last dash into Mood. I picked this silk that is so pretty in person. It has embroidered small blooms as well as the large watercolour flowers. It was labelled “famous designer silk”. That’s a bit weird when they name everyone else but hey whatever.
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    So there you go! They were my sewing related highlights. Sorry I don’t have a super specific garment district guide for you, I just really wanted to go to Mood having seen it so many times on Project Runway hehehe.

    It was really great to hang out with such lovely people and even better that all my purchases fit in my suitcase home!